Q.: Our company is trying to develop a system for constructing earth-sheltered homes. We are particularly interested in being able to assure ourselves of structural integrity on every job and to make the buildings watertight. Do you have any suggestions?

A.: The supporting soil, the drainage and the waterproofing should all be given thorough attention. These and other matters are discussed in a series of articles in the reprint collection "Earth Sheltered Construction," available for $4.00 from Concrete Construction Publications. Three more articles on these aspects of earth-sheltered construction were published in our June 1982 issue:

"basic soil considerations for earth-sheltered construction"" (6 pages), page 485;

""do your earth-sheltered homework"" (3 pages), page 493;

and "Construction Details for Earth Sheltering" (2 pages), page 521.

You might want to consider post-tensioned construction as your standard method. It could provide structural integrity and, by eliminating cracking, could reduce the cost of waterproofing. (A waterproofing material would be applied, however.) An introduction to the subject is given in

"post-tensioning: it makes sense for earth-sheltered homes"" (3 pages), February 1981 issue, page 105.